When it’s not the common cold

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When it’s an allergy, the symptoms are also triggered by the body’s immune system, but it is fighting off otherwise harmless substances such as dust.

By Patricia Nugent

The season is upon us. No, not the holidays. It’s cold and flu time.

But there might be a chance that what you suspect is a common cold is actually winter allergies.

We caught up with Dr. Barry Lampl—an allergist and immunologist who founded Allergy Diagnostics 25 years ago—to find out more.

Q: When is it a cold, and when is it allergies? 
A:
The symptoms of a cold and allergies are very similar.

With a cold, congestion is the body’s response to fighting off a virus. When it’s an allergy, the symptoms are also triggered by the body’s immune system, but it is fighting off otherwise harmless substances such as dust. 

A big difference between the two is duration. The average cold lasts three to 14 days, and allergies can last all winter if you are in contact with the trigger.

And while it may take a day or two to feel the symptoms of a cold coming on, an allergic reaction usually happens as soon as you come in contact with the trigger.

Some of the most common winter allergies include dust mites, mold and pet dander.

The best way to find out which allergies you might have is an allergy assessment.

Painless and quick, the test involves placing tiny pinpricks to the forearm. When the allergy is detected, the diagnosis is clear.

Immunotherapy effectively treats allergies. We inject trace amounts of the substance the patient is allergic to through pain-free pricks, once a week. 

After we treat patients who have been suffering needlessly for so long, most of them say the same thing: “I wish I hadn’t waited so long.”

Allergy Diagnostics has locations in Fairlawn, Mentor, Strongsville, Beachwood, Westlake and Parma. All locations feature easy parking and access. There is no facility fee. They welcome patients ages five and up. Call 330-836-9232 to make an appointment, or visit AllergyDiagnostics.com to find out more.